never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: October, 2012


The past few weeks I’ve been excited about a novel, a documentary, and a collection of poetry.  All three creators of these works live here, in Los Angeles, as do most of my favorite writers, filmmakers, and comics.  All that gives me pause once again about leaving.

At one time I had friends who were passionate about books and films and ideas, but they became distracted by raising children.  They still read and see shows, of course, just not with the same zeal.  It seems more like an afterthought, and they tend to consume stuff that’s popular and in the news now because they don’t have time to ferret out the other stuff.

I suppose that is what I meant a few posts back about feeling lonely– since I no longer have friends who are as passionate about culture, I feel more engaged with the actual producers of culture themselves, but I’m not actually friends with them.  Even when I manage to get myself to an event and meet them, I can’t seem to bridge the gap.  The fact that so many of them live here, though, does make me second guess my plans to move.

My job, however, continues to drive me mad.  I talked to a woman this week who said that, when she was an executive director of  a nonprofit, she used to attend a support group of women in the same position once a month so they could vent.  Burn-out factor was extremely high.  She’s now an academic and enjoying the far more reasonable pace of her job.

I don’t have that option however, so I’m stuck with my dilemma of whether to stay here, in the land of the creatives, where life is stressful and difficult and people are doing amazing things all around me but connection and participation feels just out of reach, or leave for a slower-paced, easier life, where I would have time and things would be  more accessible but there would simply be less to do.

endangered species

Since 1970, Americans have seen stagnating wages, longer working hours, and less stable employment, but also this:

The bottom line: Americans live longer, fuller lives, with greater conveniences and access to information, entertainment and educational opportunities that were unthinkable a generation ago. Despite the staggering cost of college education, for example, more Americans graduate than ever before. In 2012 for the first time, 30 percent of the population held a Bachelor’s degree.

Is it any wonder that so many Generation X women have ended up not having children and instead concentrating their resources on education, financial security, and, yes, entertainment?





I related to the reader comments on this article, especially the one about the workplace, as that has been my experience:

crimfan • 3 months ago • parent

I do think there’s a point though. A lot of the easy doors for making friends get closed off as one gets older. As the author notes opportunity needs to be there, and an environment that encourages mixing. 

Unfortunately in many jobs as one becomes more senior (not just in age) those opportunities go away. You have less time, have to keep distance from subordinates, and so forth. Also, the pool does dry up to some degree as folks you might want to spend time with “drop out” due to life changes. 

I think that it’s important not to artificially close people off, say simply because of age, but it’s still harder than in college by a long margin. 

Daisy • 3 months ago

You’ve got a point but I think you’re missing his point that making NEW friends is hard, and good ones – not just acquaintances you can party every now and then, but also enjoy just hanging out and talking with, like the real friends you made growing up, cannot be made by just going to a yoga class or a basketball game and striking a conversation up – even for singles!  As someone who’s been there, it’s hard to make real friends, of course it’s easy to make whatever friends, but when I was single, I just got used to just going out and doing my own things – eating alone until some guy would hit on me, going to fitness classes until someone would talk to me, and shopping by myself until I’d run into an old friend. Of course I had friends I could always party with – roommates and college friends and networked friends from volunteer groups and what not – but that closeness that was felt with my good old friends who were all living far away now – that was something very hard to attain! Sounds more like singles just settle for mediocre friends whereas non singles have to be more picky about their friends since they have less time…?   


I just finished up an incredibly enriching weekend, and although I had to do a bunch of stressful strategizing and driving, it made me appreciate again the cultural treasures of my current city as well as the solo time I have to pursue them.  I seem, thankfully, to have snapped back from the flare of insecurity the reunion spurred in me.

Looking back on my vacation/reunion week, one of the things I enjoyed most was finding yoga classes I could join during my time in that small city.  The teachers and students were all welcoming and after class I was able to converse with people in a real way about my life and theirs.  It saved me from getting lonely on the trip.

I was reminded of this while I was out today because I caught this trailer at an event, and as corny as this sounds, it brought tears to my eyes:

the long term

I had a frank talk with a financial adviser myself last year and it left me a bit crestfallen.  One thing she did tell me was that it was unlikely I’d be able to get long-term care insurance due to a chronic health condition.  At a group meeting with another financial adviser, we were told long-term health insurance is being phased out because it hasn’t been found to be profitable, but I haven’t checked around on that.

the red and the blue

The cover of Sex and the Single Girl has a quote calling it “the sensational best seller that torpedoes the myth that a girl must be married to enjoy a satisfying life,” and it is disheartening that people still seem to be torpedoing that very same myth, that anyone deviating from “normal,” or living an unconventional romantic life should be a topic of cultural curiosity and conversation. (And the idea that being single should be considered unconventional is itself a sign of the deep, unacknowledged conservatism that runs through even our blue states. In an election year we like dividing ourselves into the right-thinking and the wrong-thinking, but the right-thinking are not examining the alarming traditionalism at home.)

This cultural obsession with living alone is a sign or symptom. It fascinates and enthralls us and arouses our curiosity because the general wisdom about how to live life, even in liberal circles, is so narrow, so respectable, so uninspired. (Or as Helen Gurley Brown put it, “There are a lot of half-alive people running around in the world.”)

All the public drumrolling about deciding not to get married, or to live alone, or to have a baby on one’s own, is in direct proportion to the resistance single people still feel from the culture, the curiously old-fashioned outsider status they seem to enjoy. It is testimony to how much truth still holds in Helen Gurley Brown’s statement that the single woman’s “whole existence seems to be an apology for not being married.” 


I have to admit that it was discouraging for me to learn that almost every last woman I went to college with is married with kids (a few are divorced); I thought more weren’t but it turns out I was wrong.  In fact, I can think of only two who are in my same boat, and one of those has been in long-term (if problematic) relationships her entire life.  I did endure one uncomfortable moment at the reunion, when a former professor flat-out asked me, “So you never got married?  You don’t have any kids?”.

It’s become really, really difficult to resist the internal “what’s wrong with me” dialogue.  The only thing I see I have in common with my other college friend who hasn’t married is that we are both highly independent and adventurous and we never solely identified with one group of friends.

I found this helpful today:

For some, the “Why am I not married” question can eventually morph into the, “What’s wrong with me?” question. You may ask yourself: “Is there something about me that is either: wrong; different; or inadequate, that keeps me from finding a marriage partner?” 

…stir up all those ingredients: the questioning of self, opinions of others, your biological clock ticking louder than ever; gently fold in the idea of dating without marrying for half your life; and sprinkle in the fact you want to grow older and better with a loving partner and…well, it’s understandable if this recipe leaves you feeling at worst, panicked and at best exhausted…

Always remember that you’re engaged in the marathon called “life”. There are no shortcuts or fast tracks to happiness; it’s a one-day-at-a-time journey.


Often I’ve felt like the little match girl myself, but on better days, I think of myself as the Charlie Chaplin character “the tramp”– beholden to no one, retaining a childlike sense of wonder, and getting in and out of scraps:

imaginary friends

I’ve been excited by a book I’ve been reading recently, have become interested in a new poet, and am looking forward to a documentary that is releasing soon.  I was posting about some of these things on my Facebook page this week and noticed once again all the status updates from friends on their children and new babies.

It’s no wonder I’m so. damn. lonely.

Finally getting through my tunnel of grief over my childless state, it’s coming into stark relief that my former “idea” friends are now consumed with keeping their families afloat.  I’m left feeling like some kind of eccentric madwoman, having conversations in my head with writers, activists, and performers I don’t actually know, many of whom, if I met, wouldn’t have time for me either because they are consumed by their own families.

I don’t have addictions, I’m emotionally healthy and smart and perceptive and a good friend, and I’m frustrated once again at finding myself (still) in this isolation tank.  I tell myself that it’s situational, but it’s hard not to recall all the times in my youth when I felt left out and disconnected and think of them now as a sign.



the j.o.b.

I don’t know if Cary’s response is realistic, but I do empathize with the letter writer:

This week I’ve realized that, in addition to all the drudge, there are some really enjoyable aspects to my job.  If we weren’t so understaffed and overworked it would be a decent gig, and I wouldn’t be itching to leave.

I have also seen a small number of women throw themselves into my profession in the past,  making it their identity.  They never married or had kids or seemed to have much going on outside of work; their main focus in life and point of pride was the job.

I have the kind of position I could definitely see someone forming their life around, but I’m not that person.  I would be faking it, not just to the world but to myself.